Justin Gimelstob, the tennis commentator, coach and ATP board member, pleaded no contest in a Los Angeles court on Monday to a felony battery charge for his part in a physical altercation on Halloween night last year.
The judge, Upinder Kalra, then reduced the charge to a misdemeanor and sentenced Gimelstob to three years’ probation and 60 days of community labor.
Randall Kaplan, a former friend of Gimelstob’s, accused him of attacking from behind while he, his wife and their 2-year-old daughter were trick-or-treating in the upscale Brentwood neighborhood. He said Gimelstob had knocked him to the ground and hit him on the head more than 50 times, causing physical injuries and emotional distress. Kaplan’s wife, Madison, recorded part of the attack on a cellphone.
In an impact statement to the judge, Madison Kaplan said she was pregnant at the time of the fight but had a miscarriage about two weeks later. Randall Kaplan issued an impact statement in which he spoke of being “badly bruised and in a tremendous amount of physical pain” and “never being so scared in my life.”
Gimelstob, 42, originally pleaded not guilty in December to the felony battery charge, which could have resulted in prison time.
Gimelstob did not deny that he had hit Kaplan but said he was provoked by derogatory remarks Kaplan had made about his father, Barry Gimelstob, who had died suddenly four days before. Kaplan is a close friend of Gimelstob’s ex-wife, Cary Sinnott, with whom Gimelstob is locked in a bitter custody battle over their 5-year-old son.
Gimelstob’s lawyer, Michael Kump, said in a statement that Gimelstob, who also will be required to take an anger management course, had pleaded no contest to “move on with his professional life and focus on his family.”
Gimelstob, who was an Australian and French Open mixed doubles champion with Venus Williams, has coached 10th-ranked John Isner and now serves as an unpaid adviser to him. After the arrest in November, Gimelstob remained on the ATP board of directors as one of three player representatives. He faces a re-election vote in Rome on May 14 by the 10 players who make up the Player Council. Included among them are Isner and top-ranked Novak Djokovic.
Gimelstob was on a leave of absence from the Tennis Channel but anticipates returning soon.
“Justin asked us for a hiatus period from his Tennis Channel announcing duties, prior to any legal proceedings, in order to have time to deal with his personal situation,” the Tennis Channel president Ken Solomon said. “We, of course, acquiesced to his wishes. Together we agreed to meet whenever Justin was ready, presumably after due process has been served. We are here and ready to discuss the situation with Justin whenever appropriate, and will decide at that time.”
Gimelstob and the Kaplans are requesting restraining orders against each other, and both parties are expected to file civil suits.
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